Upskilling to transform the finance function at Bluescope

Stephannie Jonovska FCPA (left) and Dionne Jones CPA. Photo: Anthony Geernaert.

Stephannie Jonovska FCPA and Dionne Jones CPA of BlueScope Australian Steel Products are making use of every possible opportunity to upskill. The goal: a transformation of the company’s finance function, and the hope of emerging from the pandemic better than ever before.

Stephannie Jonovska FCPA, Manager finance transformation, BlueScope Australian Steel Products and chair of CPA Australia's Centre of Excellence Digital Transformation

I’ve worked with BHP and then BlueScope, which is an offshoot of BHP, for 27 years.

My background is in finance, but I’ve reinvented myself several times. I’ve worked in procurement and business improvement, which involved identifying and leading cross-business projects.

I was asked to head up finance transformation in 2017. It was a new function, and I was able to blend my commercial skills and drive transformation of the function by leveraging data, technology, processes and capability.

I recruited Dionne because I was looking for someone who could really grow the role – and grow with the role. Dionne is tenacious. She’s a real experimenter, and she loves to deliver. We have a mantra in finance transformation, which is, “make it real, make it happen, make it last”, and she epitomises this.

We’re going through a major transformation in the customer-facing systems in our business, transitioning from 25 legacy systems to Microsoft Dynamics 365, and leveraging Power BI.

Dionne has been driving adoption of Robotic Process Automation and Power BI in finance.

She has recently started a secondment in our IT team, supporting the major customer-facing transformation. She’ll develop new skills in Power BI data visualisation and governance. This is going to give her additional skills when she comes back to finance transformation. She will lead the way in how we leverage data and technology to drive actionable insights.

I wanted Dionne to do the secondment, because I was keen for her to come out of COVID-19 lockdown high-fiving and motivated through this upskilling opportunity.

Dionne is very humble. You don’t have to be the loudest person in the room, but you also don’t have to underplay your skills, which is something that she tended to do early on.

It was a focus of development for her at first, but not any more. She’s developed a really great and engaging style.

We definitely love to laugh – often at ourselves.

Dionne prefers to have all the facts lined up before making a decision, whereas I look at the bigger picture.

We’re also both very determined, and we want to create improvements and an innovation culture within finance.

You can teach anyone technical skills, but some people just have a spark, and working with Dionne has reiterated my belief in hiring for attitude rather than purely for skills.

I trust Dionne implicitly – not just to get on and do the job, but also to challenge me and to ensure that we’re getting the best results.

One thing Stephannie would change about Dionne:
I’d like Dionne to take a crazy leap of faith on an idea, and to back herself that she can do it, because she totally can.

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Dionne Jones CPA, Finance transformation specialist, BlueScope Australian Steel Products

I started at BlueScope in 2011 in the marine finance team, which focuses on our export shipments. I moved into the logistics finance team, and then my last stop before finance transformation was a role in central reporting.

The thing I’ve loved about all my roles at BlueScope is process improvement activities – whether it’s just a simple Excel spreadsheet or using forecasting tools. A role in finance transformation, where I can drive improvements 100 per cent of the time, was really appealing.

My first impression of Steph was that she was high energy, fun and very personable. She makes time for anyone, and she’s passionate and determined.

I recently started a secondment in the IT team to focus on Power BI. We did a lot of Power BI work in finance transformation, and being able to share that with the BlueScope wider team has been rewarding. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that was presented to me.

Steph and I share a fierce drive to make a great impact for our finance teams. Finance transformation projects are rarely smooth sailing – a lot can happen – and they do impact a lot of people, but I think we share the energy and passion to ensure that they are successful and that they provide a good experience along the way for our people.

Steph is a fantastic strategic thinker. While she’s thinking about the big picture and long term, I immediately gravitate to the medium term, the details and the tangible steps of how we get there.

She’s been an open book about the time that she invests in herself to grow as a leader or to prepare for big presentations or important conversations. To see and understand the investment that she continually makes in herself to master those skills has been a huge learning experience for me. I guess I’d always assumed that some people just have it and some people don’t, but I think it’s really clear that if you put the investment in, you can achieve these things. Steph has taught me that.

One thing Dionne would change about Stephannie:
There are times when I would love to put Steph on slow motion! Sometimes she operates at such a fast pace, and I just can’t keep up. If she could run on slow-mo once in a while, that would be fantastic.


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